What does it takes to do a good Ph.D?

Today, I will discuss this question: “What does it takes to do a good Ph.D ?“.  We can answer this question from several points of view.

First, from a personal level, some people think that “talent” is the most important thing to have to do a good Ph.D.  Actually, in my opinion, it is 10 % talent and 90 % how hard you work.  Of course, you need to have good knowledge of computer science, if you are doing a Ph.D. in computer science. But ultimately, you need to spend a lot of time to read papers, think about ideas, etc.  The more time you will spend, the more your research will get better.

Second, it is important to have a good research team to work with and a good professor to supervise you (see my post on choosing a professor). If you have a good research team, you may be able to collaborate on the projects of other students. This will allow you do get more publications. Moreover, it can allows you to get more feedback on your research project and to learn to work with other researchers, and to learn from them.  Working with a famous or semi-famous professor in your field will also helpyou get more funding for your research (and therefore to spend more time on your project) and get other opportunities (reviewing articles for conferences, participating in committees, etc.).

Third, you need to have a good research topic (see my post on choosing a Ph.D. topic). Actually, doing a Ph.D is about doing research.  You will make a good Ph.D. if you can work on a significant problem and bring an original solution that is a least a small but important contribution to your field. So a key step is to choose a good topic. If you choose a topic that is uninteresting, then no matter how hard you will work, your research will hardly have any impact.

Fourth, you need to make a good planning. You should set some goals and some deadlines for achieving these goals. In particular, you should make a plan of where you want to submit your papers and when.  If you have a good plan, it will help you focus on your goals.

Fifth, you should choose carefully where you publish your papers/articles (see my post: how to choose a conference for publishing research papers?). Often it is more valuable to have a single paper in a top level conference/journal than to have several papers in bad or average conferences/journals. Therefore, it is sometimes good to resist the urge to publish and to take more times to improve your research and publish in a better conference/journal.

Sixth,  try to get some other opportunities outside of your Ph.D that will help your future career. For example, you could participate in the organization of a workshop with your professor or help him to review some papers.

Seventh,  if you want to work in academia eventually, you may want to teach a course or two during your Ph.D. to get some experience and to see if you like it.

Those are my main advices on this topic.  If you have some additional thoughts, please share them in the comment section. By the way, if you like this blog, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed or my Twitter account (https://twitter.com/philfv) to get notified about future blog posts.  Also, if you want to support this blog, please tweet and share it!

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